Killing Time OST – 2b – Payment

<< 2a – Payment

The nightmares haunted me so often they failed to convince me they were reality. Knowing in the back of my mind that this was yet another variation of the same theme didn’t make it any less viscerally frightening. Even when I was awake, nightmares drove my hair to stand on end.
The machines assaulted me once again. They wanted me to join them, to lose my soul and humanity to the shiny immortality of their metallic parts. They cut through my flesh and went for my heart first, replacing it by an artificial organ. The plastic intruder had no will to fight and despite the pain that menaced to drive me insane, my dream-self lay still. They stole my limbs. They stole my skills. They injected nanobots into my bloodstream to quench the blood flow and turn it to oil. They changed my face and programmed me into a puppet show. I lined up on death row behind the rich and enhanced, and danced as the machines pulled my strings.
I could feel the stickiness of the sheets as my body turned and twisted to wake up but I had no control over my mind. The dream held me. Every night was a roll of dice. Sometimes, the sleeping pills knocked me out enough to keep the dreams at bay. Sometimes, they kept my head under the water while I drowned in my own blood. Like in a casino, a strike of luck was merely a chance to lose more on the next game. Unlike in a casino, I couldn’t pull my chips out of the game before the croupier closed the table.
That was why I never shut the blinds.
At last, the sun rose high enough to snap me out of the terror. I jerked to a sitting position. Then my mind caught up.
“Fucking tech.”
I fell back against my pillow, slowly catching up my breath. All the linens were wet with frightened sweat and I needed another shower. I reached in the cupboard compartment of my night table and grabbed my bottle of scotch, rubbing the bridge of my nose while the amber liquid sloshed from its crystal container to my glass.
Only with a drink in hand did I find the courage to slump out of bed.
I slowly sipped my scotch and shuffled to the master’s bathroom. I left my half-filled glass on the counter to slip in the shower. The cold water hit me hard but it dissipated any fatigue, at least momentarily. There would be coffee at my brunch with dad. I could pull this off.
I dried myself quickly. A combination of my morning grumpiness and my hatred of the blow drier caused me to let my hair drip and simply put on some leggings and a tank top. I would change once my hair dried. With my glass back in my grasp, I headed downstairs. To my surprise, a frog jumped up to meet me on the last step. I cocked an eyebrow and gauged the level of alcohol in my glass suspiciously. Weren’t frogs extinct? The animal gave off sparks and tumbled downstairs. That made more sense.
“Damn it!” Vexx picked up his toy carefully. “It was a perfect frog simulation!”
“It’s even more perfect now that it’s dead.” I commented, sipping some scotch.
“Oh! It’s one of those mornings.”
My killing gaze convinced Vexx to limit the teasing. He cupped the short-circuited frog-simile and laid it on his workspace for autopsy. I should give him his birthday gift in advance. He didn’t talk about it but his occupation told me pretty clearly how desperately he needed to get out of my basement, no matter how spacious it was. Once I gave him a high tech male version of my alternate face, he could take a walk. He could even buy his own groceries if he wished it so. I only hoped he would keep his job here.
I sat in my corner of the basement’s central room and powered up my computer. The holographic interface slowly came to life. Most people contented themselves with a personal computer implant in their brain. I obviously preferred my home, external version. With three swipes and a couple of taps, I accessed my illegal bank account.
“Oh, look! Dirty money!” I giggled. Vexx yawned. “Lots of dirty money.” I zoomed in on the bank transaction, squinting. “Too much dirty money.” Vexx joined me as I looked for the faulty deposit. I realized my payment for last night’s assassination was a hundred K over the agreed amount. I clicked the note accompanying it.
“I’m on it.” Vexx announced. He headed to his own computer and started typing in codes on the virtual keyboard. The bank’s system was relatively secure but Vexx double-checked the attachment to everything coming through this computer. Better safe than sorry.
I finished my scotch and went through two Sun Salutations while I waited for Vexx’s go ahead. My back cracked in a good way and my muscles forgot most of last night’s strain. I rolled my shoulders back.
“I’ll still need five.” Vexx said.
I sighed. The clock told me I’d better make good use of my time and get dressed for my brunch with dad. My hair was still damp but it wasn’t too bad. I got up the flight of stairs two steps at a time, sprinted across the lobby and climbed the other stairs to my bedroom. My heart barely pumped from the effort but it was enough to get my blood going and help me stay awake.
I picked a pink summer dress with a few polka dotted details and a pair of white sandals. I applied a little concealer, blush and mascara to camouflage the ravage of the lack of sleep and last night’s bitch slap. My favorite hoops hooked to my ears, I returned downstairs. Vexx whistled when he saw me.
“You’re the most antithetic person I know.” He said, and then clicked the note attached to my payment.
The message held in a few lines and drew a smile on my face. “I included an extra tip for the speedy service. Nice doing business with you. I hope we can renew the experience soon.” Ah! Clients.
Vexx’s barely controlled stare bothered me. I faced him squarely.
“Sorry,” he turned away, uneasy. “I’ll never get used to it. You look so… inoffensive.”
“He’s my dad.” I closed the note and sent the money on its way to the cleaner. “Offensive isn’t quite the look I am going for.” I loosely braided my hair as I spoke. “I’m a woman before I’m an assassin you know. Pink? Kind of the gender’s color…” I winked.
“I’m convinced you’re more a black sleek cocktail dress type.”
“And maybe you’ll get to see that one day. Until then, can you keep an eye on the auction for that superb Desert Eagle I want so much?” I fluttered my lashes.
“Sure. Just stop messing with my brains.” I rocked back and forth on my heels. He groaned and shooed me away. “Scamper, little girl.”
I wished him a good day, returned to the house to grab my purse and went out through the front door. Vexx could think what he wanted, this was as much the real me as the dark assassin. A balanced life avoided madness and my father was definitely the best person to keep me sane.

2c – Payment >>

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

4 responses to “Killing Time OST – 2b – Payment

  • Jenn

    I like all the little details in this, the frog, the scotch, the birthday gift & the nightmares. *shudder* I so don’t want those. Are we going to find out why she has them?

  • mish

    I may be off the mark , but I get the sense that L is quite dependent on her “illegal guest”. (against her better judgement…)
    As for the nightmares ~~ may represent a sign of “things to come .” (whatever that may be …)

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